Judy Kay-Wolff


Philadelphia is known the world over as the Cradle of Liberty and the City of Brotherly Love. In the bridge world, however, it lays claim to an even more prestigious distinction: During the fifties and sixties The City of Philadelphia allegedly was the home of more bridge superstars than any other city in the country (per capita) … including New York and L. A.! In fact, at the NABC in 2003 in Philly, the organizers unveiled a spectacular wall mounting which displayed the portraits of fourteen individuals who distinguished themselves, primarily in the play of the game. They were either native born or had been raised or settled in Philly, considering it their home. This impressive Who’s Who included: B. J. Becker, Johnny Crawford, Bobby Goldman, Charlie Goren, Bobby Jordan, Norman Kay, Peter Pender, Olive Peterson, Arthur Robinson, Sidney Silodor, Helen Sobel, Charlie Solomon, Dave Treadwell and Sally Young. Twelve are deceased, the two surviving honorees being Arthur Robinson and Dave Treadwell.

New York and neighboring areas also produced many big guns and the strength of the GNYBA tournaments was easily comparable to our Nationals. In the mid sixties, I was merely a carefree kibitzer – watching Norman playing with Edgar Kaplan against an intimidating array of what seemed like Murderer’s Row.  The players’ roster in the Big Apple appeared to feature one bridge giant after another just lying in wait for their prey to arrive. The cast included such locals (and out-of-town partners) as Feldesman, Fishbein, Hayden, Harmon, Leventritt, The Mitchells, Root, Roth, Rubin, Schenken, Sheinwold, Stakgold, Stayman, Stone, Truscott and a host of other rising stars.  One funny incident stands out in my mind and perhaps is the reason few husband and wife partnerships stand the test of time.

A world class NY Hall of Famer who shall remain nameless was playing in a prestigious event – with his wife by his side. Making a particular contract hinged on a two-way guess for a random queen. After studying for a considerable length of time, he started to detach a card from his hand, which portended which way he was taking the finesse.  Simultaneously, his kibitzer (perhaps involuntarily) flinched – giving declarer second thoughts. He balked, put the card back in his hand, reconsidered his options and followed his original instinct —successfully locating the missing card and and making the contract.! Later he was overheard chiding his wife: “Even after you see the opponent’s hand, I can’t trust your judgment — or even your eyesight.” Whether he was teasing or not – we will never know as they are both gone now.

Stay tuned.


Neil T.October 1st, 2008 at 8:08 am

In my youth I would wake up and eagerly look forward to reading my local daily Bridge Column. Now, thanks to you and the advent of both the Internet and this incredible Blogging concept, I get my “bridge fix” on your blog site. Your personal anecdotes are entertaining and you seem to exhibit a bold and conscientious concern for the problems facing the bridge organization at large. I agree with the need to address the matters that are detrimental to the game. Keep those blogs coming. I, for one, appreciate your efforts.

By the way, I just read your husband’s new book, The Lone Wolff and cannot believe how much (as a veteran player myself) that I did not know before!

Sandy SternOctober 21st, 2008 at 2:22 pm

Those of us who grew up with bridge in NYC always felt a loss in not being able to see the local Philadelphia bridge shows and events that you penned. Now we have your site and can read your “pearls” regularly. Thank you for your blogging.